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Reviews Comments: Max Payne 3: Halfway Decent, but Disappointing Max Payne game review by Tera Chimera

Max Payne 3 starts off strong, but gradually shifts into unpleasantness as it goes on, eventually wallowing in despair by the end. With some modification, a sequel to this could be good, but as it stands now, Max Payne 3 is a different creature from it predecessors that doesn't quite hit the mark.

Easily the biggest issue is the drastic shift in tone from the first two games: it's just so fucking dark. Cardboard cutouts get killed left and right with little time for characterization, while Max himself spends a good portion of the game drinking and talking about what a piece of shit he is. This is not helped by the setting change; the tone of the previous games was moody but not relentlessly so, while this game seems determined to constantly throw the worst São Paulo has to offer at us. Eventually, it just becomes a nonstop cavalcade of grimness, and it's hard to root for anybody. Leaving the darkness aside, cutscenes are lengthy, often unskippable, and punctuated with annoying effects: colors randomly breaking apart like a bad TV screen, words characters have just said hanging in the air, and sudden split screens. This is possibly an attempt to emulate the comic panels of the originals with none of the style.

The gameplay is... a little off. The actual shooting and flying through the air work fine, although the game is incredibly stingy with bullet time, for some reason: simply going into slow motion for an easy headshot is rarely an option. However, the cover mechanic isn't as good. This game shows that a cover system works best with regenerating health of some kind; if you get caught behind cover with only a sliver of health left and no way to get it back, you might as well reload your game — from a checkpoint, as there is no quicksave option. Painkillers are also rare, which means having low health is pretty common. The Euphoria system can actually be a detriment at times, making it hard to tell if a bad guy has died or just fallen over. There are flashes around the crosshairs to show if you kill someone, but they're easy to miss.

There is some fun to be had here, if you're willing to sit through a grim slog to get to it. Some of the levels are pretty well-designed and have some entertaining moments. However, if you dislike excessive thematic darkness, you should give this game a pass.


  • Austin
  • 4th Jan 13
Man, you took the words right out of my mouth. I agree with everything you said. The game has some great moments, and is quite impressive in many ways, but it lost some of the series' style, and some of the gameplay additions don't seem well thought out. Is there any reason NOT to have a quicksave?
  • maninahat
  • 16th Feb 13
I agree entirely; you've saved me the trouble writing my own review.

What got to me was just how much of a mopy bitch Max was about everything. In the previous games, Max was a miserable guy, but he had a sense of humour and the game was tongue in cheek enough to have plenty of funny moments. That fits better with the action movie bullet time and the massacre of hundreds of enemies with goofy accents. In the third game, you're punished for trying to have too much fun - your ammo runs out really quickly if you get trigger happy, your bullet time dries up all too soon, and the 3 gun limit means you basically results in you getting very little weapon variety.

I was one of the people that welcomed the change of setting and the aging of Max - but I certainly don't like the thrown in "realism" and grim dark self-seriousness that has come with it.
  • SavoryMaggotEggs
  • 6th Apr 16
It's your opinion, but honestly - I dislike the criticism of Max Payne 3 being 'too grim'. I feel it's just right for a Max Payne game - it adds to the movie quality, while the first two felt more like a summer blockbuster - flashy, heavy-handed yet somehow uplifting.

And besides, the ending was pretty cool and uplifting, it was much more satisfying as an ending after all the depressing stuff in the game.

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